Archive for February, 2012

Chicken Soup For The Soul and For the Cold-Natural Cold and Flu Remedies

February 26, 2012

It’s no wonder natural cold and flu remedies are popular — modern medicine has yet to offer a cure for these age-old ailments. While some antiviral drugs can prevent and shorten the flu’s duration, most medications only offer temporary relief of symptoms. Many natural remedies provide temporary relief as well, and a few may actually help you get better. This blog will discuss the most common natural remedies which are available at most health food stores and pharmacies.

Echinacea
Echinacea is an herbal supplement that is believed to boost the immune system to help fight infections. But it’s unclear whether this boost helps fight off colds or flu. Some researchers have reported no benefits, but at least one recent study paints a more positive picture. Patients who took echinacea shortened their colds by an average of 1.4 days. Still, some physicians remain skeptical, and it’s best to check with a doctor before trying this or other herbal remedies
Zinc
Some studies show that zinc appears to have antiviral properties. There is some evidence the mineral may prevent the formation of certain proteins that cold viruses use to reproduce themselves. While zinc does not appear to help prevent colds, some research suggests it may help shorten cold symptom duration and reduce the severity of the common cold when taken within 24 hours of the first symptoms. The FDA recommends against using zinc nasal products for colds because of reports of permanent loss of smell.

Vitamin C
The cold-fighting prowess of vitamin C remains uncertain. Some studies suggest it can help reduce the duration and severity of cold symptoms. In one study, participants who were exposed to extreme physical stress and cold weather — and who took vitamin C — were 50% less likely to get a cold. To prevent side effects, such as diarrhea and stomach upset, the maximum daily intake of vitamin C for adults is 2,000 milligrams.

Chicken Soup
Grandma was onto something. Chicken soup may help cold symptoms in more than one way. Inhaling the steam can ease nasal congestion. Sipping spoonfuls of fluid can help avoid dehydration. And some advocates say the soup may soothe inflammation. Researchers have found chicken soup has anti-inflammatory properties in the lab, though it’s unclear whether this effect translates to real-world colds. But as my wise Jewish mother would say, “It may not help, but it voidn’t hoit!”

Hot Tea
Drinking hot tea offers some of the same benefits as chicken soup. Inhaling the steam relieves congestion, while swallowing the fluid soothes the throat and keeps you hydrated. Black and green teas have the added bonus of being loaded with disease-fighting antioxidants, which may fight colds.

Hot Toddy
The hot toddy is an age-old nighttime cold remedy probably having its beginning during the time of the Civil War. Since you won’t want to drink black tea before bed, make a cup of hot herbal tea. Add a teaspoon of honey, a small shot of whiskey or bourbon, and a squeeze of lemon. This mixture may ease congestion, soothe the throat and help you sleep. Limit yourself to one hot toddy. Too much alcohol can affect the immune system.

Garlic
Garlic has long been touted for legendary germ-fighting abilities. And it is still being promoted as a health food with medicinal properties. Many of the claims surrounding it are not backed by enough research, yet garlic is very nutritious. In addition, it can help spice up your meals when a stuffy nose makes everything taste bland.

Steam/Humidifier
For a heavy dose of steam, use a room humidifier — or simply sit in the bathroom with the door shut and a hot shower running. Breathing in steam can break up congestion in the nasal passages, offering relief from a stuffy or runny nose.

Saline Drops
Dripping saltwater into the nose can thin out nasal secretions and help remove excess mucus, while reducing congestion. Try over-the-counter saline drops, or make your own by mixing 8 ounces of warm water with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon baking soda. Use a bulb syringe to squirt the mixture into one nostril while holding the other one closed. Repeat 2-3 times and then do the other side.

Menthol Ointment
Days of wiping and blowing your nose can leave the skin around your nostrils sore and irritated. A simple remedy is to dab a menthol-infused ointment under, but not in, the nose. Menthol has mild numbing agents that can relieve the pain of raw skin. As an added benefit, breathing in the medicated vapors that contain menthol or camphor may help open clogged passages and relieve symptoms of congestion. Use only in children over 2 years of age.

Saltwater Gargle
For a sore throat, the traditional saltwater gargle may have some merit. Gargling warm water with a teaspoon of salt four times daily may help keep a scratchy throat moist.

Nasal Strips
Another strategy for relieving nighttime congestion is to try over-the-counter nasal strips. These are strips of tape worn on the bridge of the nose to open the nasal passages. While they can’t unclog the nose, they do increase the nasal openings and allow for improved airflow.

Let Your Fever Work
A fever is the original natural remedy. The rise in temperature actively fights colds and flu by making your body inhospitable for germs. Endure a moderate fever for a couple of days to get better faster. Just be sure to stay well hydrated. Call your doctor right away if the fever is over 104, unless it comes down quickly with treatment. In infants 3 months or younger call your doctor for any fever greater than 100.4. Children with a fever of less than 102 usually don’t require treatment unless they’re uncomfortable.

Bed Rest
With our busy lives, most of us loathe to spend a day or two under the covers. But getting plenty of rest lets your body direct more energy to fighting off germs. Staying warm is also important, so tuck yourself in and give your immune cells a leg up in their noble battle.

Bottom Line: Okay, these remedies aren’t guaranteed to solve all of your flu or cold symptoms. However, there may be weak scientific evidence that they do help reduce the symptoms of the flu or cold.

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These Boots Are Made For Walking and Exercise Might Just Reduce Prostate Cancer Progression

February 26, 2012

A new study suggests that vigorous physical activity will offer protection against prostate cancer progression. We know that men who exercise vigorously have a reduced risk for all-cause mortality and prostate-cancer-specific mortality.
Researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health showed that vigorous exercise can reduce the progression of prostate cancer and reduce the risk of prostate-cancer-specific mortality.
Men who reported that they undertook vigorous physical activity for 3 hours per week or more were found to have a 49% lower risk for all-cause mortality and a 61% lower risk for prostate-cancer-specific mortality than those who exercised for less than 1 hour per week.
The vigorous physical exercise consisted of jogging, cycling, tennis, or swimming. Men who reported this type of exercise for more than 3 hours per week before and after their diagnosis of prostate cancer had the lowest risk for all-cause and prostate-cancer-specific mortality. In addition, men who reported walking at a normal to very brisk pace for more than 90 minutes per week — compared with those who walked at an easy pace — had a significantly reduced risk for all-cause mortality and a suggestion of a reduced risk for prostate-cancer-specific mortality. It found that men who reported a brisk walking pace (>3 mph), compared with an easy walking pace (<2 mph), had a 48% lower risk for prostate cancer progression.
Bottom Line: It is important for all patients, especially men with prostate cancer, to exercise. It just might make you live longer.

Cancer Prevention For Women-Listen To Your Body

February 23, 2012

Your body may be the best detective for discovering cancer This blog will provide tenant signs and symptoms that may help you discover cancer in the early stages when treatment is most likely to be successful.

Breast changes
If you feel a lump in your breast, you shouldn’t ignore it even if your mammogram is normal. If your nipple develops scaling and flaking, that could indicate a disease of the nipple, which is associated with underlying cancer in nearly 95% of cases. Also any milky or bloody discharge should also be checked out.

Irregular menstrual bleeding
Any postmenopausal bleeding is a warning sign. Spotting outside of your normal menstrual cycle or heavier periods should be investigated.

Rectal bleeding
Colon cancer is the third most common cancer in women. One of the hallmarks is rectal bleeding. Your doctor will likely order a colonscopy.

Vaginal discharge
A foul or smelly vaginal discharge could be a sign of cervical cancer. And examination is necessary to determine if the discharge is due to an infection or something more serious.

Bloating
Ovarian cancer is the #1 killer of all reproductive organ cancers. The 4 most frequent signs of ovarian cancer are bloating, feeling that you’re getting full earlier than you typically would when eating, changing bowel or bladder habits such as urinating more frequently, and low back or pelvic pain. You can expect a pelvic exam, transvaginal sonogram, and perhaps a CA-125 blood test to check for cancerous cells.

Unexplained weight gain or loss
Weight gain can occur with accumulation of fluid in the abdomen from ovarian cancer. Unexplained weight loss of 10 pounds or more may be the first sign of cancer. Weight loss in women can also be due to an overactive thyroid gland.

Persistence cough
Any cough that lasts 2 or 3 weeks and is not due to an allergy or upper respiratory infection or a cough that has blood in the sputum needs to be checked. Also, smoking is the number one cancer killer in women.

Change in lymph nodes
If you feel lymph nodes in your neck or under your arm, you should be seen by your doctor. Swollen, firm lymph nodes are often the result of an infection. However, lymphoma or lung, breast, head or neck cancer that has spread can also show up as an enlarged lymph node.

Fatigue
Extreme tiredness that does not get better with rest should warrant an appointment with your doctor. Leukemia, colon, or stomach cancer-which can cause blood loss-can result in fatigue.

Skin Changes
Any sores irritated skin the vaginal area, or a non-healing vulvar lesion can be a sign of vulvar cancer.
Bottom Line: If you notice something different about your body, get it checked out. Most likely it’s not cancer, but if it is, cancer is treatable and often curable.

Exercise for Excellence

February 22, 2012

We have all heard why exercise is so important for health and well-being. I would like to point out that exercise results in increased mental performance and productivity. A study in the Journal of Ergonomics established that mental performance was significantly better in the physically fit than in the unfit. Fit workers committed 27% fewer errors on task involving concentration and short-term memory as compared to unfit workers. Eighty executives were studied over a nine-month period. Those executives who exercise regularly improve their fitness by 22% and demonstrated a 70% improvement in their ability to make complex decisions as compared to other executives who did not exercise. Even moderate exercise can increase cognitive capacity by increasing more blood and oxygen to the brain and producing chemicals to help repair brain cells and prevent damage.

 

 The most common reason people give to not exercise is that they do not have the time in their already busy day. While finding the time is a legitimate challenge for many people, exercising will increase energy and lower stress level, allowing one to better address other time-consuming activities. With a clearer mind, better self-esteem, and a more positive mindset you will make decisions and address situations with higher performance and greater efficiency.

 

 A well-balanced diet and regular exercise are necessities to lose and maintain body weight. Once one gets into an exercise routine, the desire to overeat will be reduced. A low-calorie diet containing highly nutritious meals will help maintain a steady supply of energy and important nutrients. It is recommended that you drink 64 ounces of water daily to cleanse your system. Saying you do not have the time is an easy excuse to make; however, changing your mindset and gradually finding a way to work exercise into your daily routine will make you feel better in the long run.

 

 It is not necessary to go to a gym or to put on jogging clothes in order to exercise and increase your heart rate.   For example, you can park your car a few blocks from your office and walk to and from your office several times a day.  It is not necessary to always take an elevator and walking up several flights of stairs several times a day is also a fine example of increasing your heart rate and burning extra calories. You can also drop down and do a few push-ups several times a day to increase your upper body strength.

 

 Bottom line:  a well-balanced diet and regular exercise are necessities to achieve excellence in your personal and professional life. Find ways to increase your daily exercise and you’ll find that your outlook, energy level, and your productivity will increase significantly.

 

 This article was modified from an article appearing in Podiatry Management in November 2011 by Dr. John Guiliana and Dr. Hal Ornstein. 

The Life and Death of the Penis-What’s Happening Down There As Men Grow Older

February 18, 2012

It is a fact that as a man ages, the penis also changes in size, shape, and function. This blog discusses some of those changes to help men better understand what’s happening “down there”.
It’s no secret that a man’s sexual function declines with age. As his testosterone level falls, it takes more to arouse him. Once aroused, he takes longer to get an erection and to achieve orgasm and, following orgasm, to become aroused again. Age brings marked declines in semen volume and sperm quality. Erectile dysfunction (ED), or impotence, is clearly linked to advancing years; between the ages of 40 and 70, the percentage of potent men falls from 60% to roughly 30%, studies show.
Men also experience a gradual decline in urinary function. Studies show that a man’s urine stream weakens over time, the consequence of weakened bladder muscles and, in many cases, prostate enlargement.
And that’s not all. Recent research confirms what men have long suspected and, in some cases, feared: that the penis itself undergoes significant changes as a man moves from his sexual prime — around age 30 for most guys — into middle age and on to his dotage. These changes include:
Appearance. There are two major changes. The head of the penis (the glans) gradually loses its purplish color, the result of reduced blood flow. And there is a slow loss of pubic hair. As testosterone wanes, the penis gradually reverts to its prepubertal, mostly hairless, state.
Penis Size. Weight gain is common as men grow older. As fat accumulates on the lower abdomen, the apparent size of the penis changes. A large prepubic fat pad makes the penile shaft appear shorter. Advice to obese men who are concerned about their shrinking size of their penis, if they would lose some weight especially in their abdominal area, the penis would appear to grow longer.
In addition to this apparent shrinkage (which is reversible) the penis tends to undergo an actual (and irreversible) reduction in size. The reduction — in both length and thickness — typically isn’t dramatic but may be noticeable. If a man’s erect penis is 6 inches long when he is in his 30s, it might be 5 or 5-and-a-half inches when he reaches his 60s or 70s.
What causes the penis to shrink? At least two mechanisms are involved, experts say. One is the slow deposition of fatty substances (plaques) inside tiny arteries in the penis, which impairs blood flow to the organ. This process, known as atherosclerosis, is the same one that contributes to blockages inside the coronary arteries — a leading cause of heart attack. It is common for men with coronary artery disease to have erectile dysfunction several years before they have chest pain or signs of a heart attack. It is this reason that men who have erectile dysfunction seek out medical care and be checked for heart disease.

Another mechanism involves the gradual buildup of relatively inelastic collagen (scar tissue) within the stretchy fibrous sheath that surrounds the erection chambers. Erections occur when these chambers fill with blood. Blockages within the penile arteries — and increasingly inelastic chambers — mean smaller erections.
As penis size changes, so do the testicles. Starting around age 40, the testicles definitely begin to shrink. The testicles of a 30-year-old man might measure 3 centimeters in diameter; those of a 60-year-old, perhaps only 2 centimeters.
Curvature. If penile scar tissue accumulates unevenly, the penis can become curved. This condition, known as Peyronie’s disease, occurs most commonly in middle age. It can cause painful erections and make intercourse difficult. The condition may require surgery.
Sensitivity. Numerous studies have shown that the penis becomes less sensitive over time. This can make it hard to achieve an erection and to have an orgasm. Whether it renders orgasm less pleasurable remains an open question.
Bottom line: The normal changes that occur in nearly all men need not ruin your erotic life. According to a good friend, Dr. Irwin Goldstein, “The most important ingredient for a satisfying sex life is the ability to satisfy your partner, and that doesn’t require peak sexual performance or a big penis.” Remember it isn’t the size of the penis, but how you use it that counts.
This has been modified from an article in WebMD by David Freeman, http://men.webmd.com/features/life-cycle-of-a-penis

Seniors Don’t Have To Be Sexy To Have Sex

February 13, 2012

Studies have shown that 70 percent of men and 35 percent of women continue to be sexually active over the age of 70. Sexual interest continues throughout life and seniors today need to know that they can still be intimate during their golden years.

Here are the truths behind the myths regarding seniority and sex.

Misconception: Lack of interest in being intimate.

Reality: Sexual interest continues throughout life. Society tends to have an ageist concept of intimacy, feeling sex among seniors is inappropriate or unnatural. There are enough men for women who are interested and many social outlets for seniors to meet others with whom they can become intimate. These include various organizations or clubs, church groups, dance functions, etc.

Misconception: Inability to perform.

Reality: Complications from aging, such as having to take more medications with side effects and chronic illness, may interfere with sexual function, but they do not eliminate it.

Misconception: Sexual dysfunction cannot be treated.

Reality: Erectile dysfunction is not always an inevitable consequence of aging, but it can often be a result of medications or anxiety. A person’s overall health may also be a concern, so be sure to discuss any issues you are having with your doctor. Medication to alleviate this condition is an option but only with doctor approval.

Misconception: Common illness or disabilities warrants stopping any sexual activity.

Reality: Intimacy is possible for those who may have some medical issues. Those with bone and joint limitations; limited cardiac and pulmonary reserve; and cognitive disorders can have sex, it just may take some patience and creativity. Common concerns include:

Heart disease: risk is low for another heart attack to occur while being intimate; in fact, an active sex life may decrease the risk of a future heart attack.

Diabetes: one of the few diseases that can cause impotence. Once diabetes is diagnosed and controlled, however, potency in most cases may be restored.

Stroke: rarely damages physical aspects of sexual function, and it is unlikely that sexual exertion will cause another stroke. Using different positions or medical devices that assist body functions can help make up for any weakness or paralysis that may have occurred.

Arthritis: can produce pain that limits sexual activity. Surgery and drugs can relieve these problems, but in some cases the medicines used can decrease sexual desire. Exercise, rest, warm baths, and changes in position and timing of sexual activity (such as avoiding evening and early-morning hours of pain) can be helpful.

Prostatectomy: rarely affects potency. Except for a lack of seminal fluid, sexual capacity and enjoyment after a prostatectomy should return to the pre-surgery level.

Misconception: Seniors cannot contract STDs.

Reality: Anyone who is not practicing safe sex is exposed to the risk of contracting a STD. According to Today’s Research on Aging, adults age 50 and older accounted for 10 percent of new HIV infections in the United States in 2006. In 2007, 34 percent of adults age 50 and older were living with AIDS. Find the safest method that works best for you.

** Remember, sexual activity is normal, healthy behavior. Talk to your doctor if you have any questions regarding sexual activity. There are many ways to be intimate without engaging in sexual intercourse. Intimacy can also be achieved through touching, holding hands, long walks, dancing and other forms of shared experiences. Communication between partners is most important.

Screen Tests Are Not Just For Male Movies Stars

February 9, 2012

Getting the right screening test at the right time is one of the most important things a man can do for his health. Screenings find diseases early, before you have symptoms, when they’re easier to treat. Early colon cancer can be nipped in the bud. Finding diabetes early may help prevent complications such as vision loss and impotence. The tests you need are based on your age and your risk factors.

Prostate Cancer
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer found in American men after skin cancer. It tends to be a slow-growing cancer, but there are also aggressive, fast-growing types of prostate cancer. Screening tests can find the disease early, sometimes before symptoms develop, when treatments are most effective.
Screenings for healthy men may include both a digital rectal exam (DRE) and a prostate specific antigen (PSA) blood test. The American Cancer Society advises men to talk with a doctor about the risks and limitations of PSA screening as well as its possible benefits. Discussions should begin at:
• 50 for average-risk men
• 45 for men at high risk. This includes African-Americans.
• 40 for men with a strong family history of prostate cancer
The American Urological Association recommends a first-time PSA test at age 40, with follow-ups per doctor’s orders.

Testicular Cancer
This uncommon cancer develops in a man’s testicles, the reproductive glands that produce sperm. Most cases occur between ages 20 and 54. The American Cancer Society recommends that all men have a testicular exam when they see a doctor for a routine physical. Men at higher risk (a family history or an undescended testicle) should talk with a doctor about additional screening. I suggest that most men learn how to do a self-examination. You can gently feeling for hard lumps, smooth bumps, or changes in size or shape of the testes. If you find an abnormality, contact your doctor. For more information on testis self-examination, please go to my website: http://www.neilbaum.com/testes-self-examination-tse.html

Colorectal Cancer
Colorectal cancer is the second most common cause of death from cancer. Men have a slightly higher risk of developing it than women. The majority of colon cancers slowly develop from colon polyps: growths on the inner surface of the colon. After cancer develops it can invade or spread to other parts of the body. The way to prevent colon cancer is to find and remove colon polyps before they turn cancerous.
Screening begins at age 50 in average-risk adults. A colonoscopy is a common test for detecting polyps and colorectal cancer. A doctor views the entire colon using a flexible tube and a camera. Polyps can be removed at the time of the test. A similar alternative is a flexible sigmoidoscopy that examines only the lower part of the colon. Some patients opt for a virtual colonoscopy — a CT scan — or double contrast barium enema — a special X-ray — although if polyps are detected, an actual colonoscopy is needed to remove them.

Skin Cancer
The most dangerous form of skin cancer is melanoma (shown here). It begins in specialized cells called melanocytes that produce skin color. Older men are twice as likely to develop melanoma as women of the same age. Men are also 2-3 times more likely to get non-melanoma basal cell and squamous cell skin cancers than women are. Your risk increases as lifetime exposure to sun and/or tanning beds accumulates; sunburns accelerate risk.
The American Cancer Society and the American Academy of Dermatology recommend regular skin self-exams to check for any changes in marks on your skin including shape, color, and size. A skin exam by a dermatologist or other health professional should be part of a routine cancer checkup. Treatments for skin cancer are more effective and less disfiguring when it’s found early.

High Blood Pressure (Hypertension)
Your risk for high blood pressure increases with age. It’s also related to your weight and lifestyle. High blood pressure can lead to severe complications without any prior symptoms, including an aneurysm — dangerous ballooning of an artery. But it can be treated. When it is, you may reduce your risk for heart disease, stroke, and kidney failure. The bottom line: Know your blood pressure. If it’s high, work with your doctor to manage it.
Blood pressure readings give two numbers. The first (systolic) is the pressure in your arteries when the heart beats. The second (diastolic) is the pressure between beats. Normal blood pressure is less than 120/80. High blood pressure is 140/90 or higher, and in between those two is prehypertension — a major milestone on the road to high blood pressure. How often blood pressure should be checked depends on how high it is and what other risk factors you have.

Cholesterol Levels
A high level of LDL cholesterol in the blood causes sticky plaque to build up in the walls of your arteries (seen here in orange). This increases your risk of heart disease. Atherosclerosis — hardening and narrowing of the arteries — can progress without symptoms for many years. Over time it can lead to heart attack and stroke. Lifestyle changes and medications can reduce this “bad” cholesterol and lower your risk of cardiovascular disease.
The fasting blood lipid panel is a blood test that tells you your levels of total cholesterol, LDL “bad” cholesterol, HDL “good” cholesterol, and triglycerides (blood fat). The results tell you and your doctor a lot about what you need to do to reduce your risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. Men 20 years and older should have a new panel done at least every five years. Starting at 35, men need regular cholesterol testing.

Type 2 Diabetes
One-third of Americans with diabetes don’t know they have it. Uncontrolled diabetes can lead to heart disease and stroke, kidney disease, blindness from damage to the blood vessels of the retina (shown here), nerve damage, and impotence. This doesn’t have to happen. Especially when found early, diabetes can be controlled and complications can be avoided with diet, exercise, weight loss, and medications.
A fasting plasma glucose test is most often used to screen for diabetes. More and more doctors are turning to the A1C test, which tells how well your body has controlled blood sugar over time. Healthy adults should have the test every three years starting at age 45. If you have a higher risk, including high cholesterol or blood pressure, you may start testing earlier and more frequently.

Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)
HIV is the virus that causes AIDS. It’s in the blood and other body secretions of infected individuals, even when there are no symptoms. It spreads from one person to another when these secretions come in contact with the vagina, anal area, mouth, eyes, or a break in the skin. There is still no cure or vaccine. Modern treatments can keep HIV infection from becoming AIDS, but these medications can have serious side effects.
HIV-infected individuals can remain symptom-free for many years. The only way to know they are infected is with a series of blood tests. The first test is called ELISA or EIA. It looks for antibodies to HIV in the blood. It’s possible not to be infected and still show positive on the test. So a second test called a Western blot assay is done for confirmation. If you were recently infected, you could still have a negative test result. Repeat testing is recommended. If you think you may have been exposed to HIV, ask your doctor about the tests.
Most newly infected individuals test positive by two months after infection. But up to 5% are still negative after six months. Safe sex — abstinence or always using latex barriers such as a condom or a dental dam — is necessary to avoid getting HIV and other sexually transmitted infections. If you have HIV and are pregnant, talk with your doctor about what needs to be done to reduce the risk of HIV infection in your unborn child. Drug users should not share needles.

Glaucoma
This group of eye diseases gradually damages the optic nerve and may lead to blindness — and significant, irreversible vision loss can occur before people with glaucoma notice any symptoms. Screening tests look for abnormally high pressure within the eye, to catch and treat the condition before damage to the optic nerve.
Glaucoma Screening
Eye tests for glaucoma are based on age and personal risk:
• Under 40: Every 2-4 years
• 40-54: Every 1-3 years
• 55-64: Every 1-2 years
• 65 up: Every 6-12 months
Talk with a doctor about earlier, more frequent glaucoma screening, if you fall in a high-risk group: African-Americans, those with a family history of glaucoma, previous eye injury, or use of steroid medications.

Bottom Line: There’s a saying New Orleans that if ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Well that doesn’t apply to maintaining your car and it certainly doesn’t apply to your health and well-being. Men need to have screening tests in order to detect disease states early when they are treatable and curable.

Prostate cancer test promising- A Simple urinalysis might lead to more-precise diagnoses

February 6, 2012

Prostate cancer test promising
Urinalysis might lead to more-precise diagnoses.

Researchers said Thursday they are closer to developing a urine test that can better detect which prostate cancers are aggressive and potentially life-threatening.
Such a test would be welcome. More than half of prostate cancers are slow growing and unlikely to kill, and experts say watchful waiting is the best option for many patients — especially if doctors were better able predict their course.
Currently, biopsies — in which several small tissue samples are taken from different parts of the prostate — are used to try to identify large, aggressive tumors.
The hope is that an accurate urine test might in some cases replace the need for biopsy, while easing fears in men who opt to delay or forgo treatment.
The study included 401 men, about 70 from San Antonio, who were picked because doctors thought their cancers were low-risk and good candidates for watchful waiting. Of those, the urine test found about 10 percent had more aggressive disease, making them candidates for surgery — results that were confirmed by biopsy.
Prostate biopsies are invasive and don’t always pick up all of the cancer. Post-digital-rectal exam urine collection is much less invasive. If a urine-based diagnostic test could be developed that could predict aggressive disease or disease progression as well as or better than a biopsy, that would be ideal.
The urine tests, PCA3 and T2-ERG, together provide a kind of genetic profile of the cancer. Added to the current PSA test, a digital rectal exam and factors such as age, race and family history, they could help doctors make more accurate predictions if the results are confirmed in the larger study.

Bottom Line: Ultimately, doctors would like to be able to have these tests and be able to confirm the man has a low-risk cancer which means less treatment, less complications, less side effects, and longer survival. Instead of seeing the patient every six months and doing a biopsy every two years, your doctor might tell men with low risk cancers: “You have a low-risk cancer, see you in five years.”

Read more: http://www.mysanantonio.com/news/local_news/article/Prostate-cancer-test-promising-2969055.php#ixzz1lbdmooJc

Xerostomia-When Your Mouth Feels Like the Sahara Deseret

February 5, 2012

I see dozens of patient every week for the problem of overactive bladder or when you gotta go, you gotta go! The side effects from the medications used to treat overactive bladder are often accompanied by the problem of dry mouth or xerostomia. Not only does medication cause this problem but also there are other common causes of this disabling condition. In this article, I will review the cause of dry mouth and provide some treatment options for this common problem.
Dry mouth can be defined as a lack of saliva flow resulting in an uncomfortable or in some cases a debilitating condition. 17-29% of adults experience dry mouth. Dry mouth is not a trivial condition. It can be painful and have a profound impact on oral health and a person’s quality of life.
Other Symptoms Occurring With Dry Mouth

Dry mouth is accompanied by bad breath, or halitosis, but also increases the risk of dental cavities or caries. Because dry mouth alters the normal bacteria in the mouth, the risk of infections, such as candidiasis, also increases. Since there is a decrease in saliva, which is necessary to mix with food that is to be swallowed, swallowing can difficult. People with dry mouth may have difficulty talking. Finally, those who complain of dry mouth also report that there is a decrease in the sense of taste making eating less enjoyable.

Visually, you will notice the mucosal tissues becoming red and parched in the case of dry mouth. The inside of the mouth may be sticky, with cracking at the corners of the mouth, and the tongue may appear reddened, or take on a ‘pebbled’ appearance.
Causes of Dry Mouth: Medication
Millions of Americans are affected by dry mouth, especially women, older people and those using any of the 400 commonly prescribed drugs that list dry mouth as a side effect. For example, many of the drugs used to treat overactive bladder are associated with the side effects of a dry mouth. However, with treatment most of the patients taking these drugs do not have to discontinue the use of the medication used to treat their overactive bladder. Taking more than one medication may increase this risk of dry mouth.
Certain kinds of drugs are more prone to cause dry mouth symptoms. The most commonly implicated are tricyclic antidepressants, antipsychotics, benzodiazepines, atropine containing drugs, beta-blockers and antihistamines. Most are prescription, but even over-the-counter drugs can cause dry mouth symptoms such as antihistamines, decongestants, cough and cold remedies, analgesics and anti-nauseants.
Dry mouth, has been ranked as the third most distressing symptom of therapy for head and neck cancer. Surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy can all cause symptoms of dry mouth, and sometimes dry mouth can be permanent.
Radiotherapy causes the most damage to the salivary glands. In the first week after radiotherapy, saliva flow reduces by 95% and ceases almost entirely within five weeks. Two-thirds of radiotherapy patients who survive three years are still suffering from chronic dry mouth. Chemotherapy also reduces saliva flow, but the effects are relatively short-lived.
Dry mouth can be a symptom of several diseases, and is often seen alongside other reduced secretions such as dry skin, dry eyes, blurred vision and vaginal itching.
Sjögren’s Syndrome — a disease where the body’s immune system attacks salivary glands and tear ducts — is one of the greatest causes of dry mouth. It is estimated to affect seven million Americans, 90% of them women, with an average age of 50. Other diseases known to cause dry mouth symptoms include rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythromatosis and sarcoidosis.
Diabetes is another common cause of dry mouth symptoms and hyposalivation. Chronic dry mouth could be due to the body excreting water through increased urination, or from some underlying metabolic or hormonal problem.
Smoking or chewing tobacco can affect saliva production and aggravate dry mouth. Continuously breathing with your mouth open can also contribute to the problem.
Unbrushed teeth have food particles around them that promote bacteria and cause bad breath. Persistent bad breath or a bad taste in your mouth may be from continuous breathing through your mouth, dry mouth, a sign of gum disease, or even diabetes. Fight bad breath by brushing your teeth and tongue, and drinking water.

If you think your dry mouth is caused by certain medication you are taking, talk to your doctor. He or she may adjust the dose you are taking or switch you to a different drug that doesn’t cause dry mouth.
In addition, an oral rinse to restore mouth moisture may be prescribed. I have recommended that patients with overactive bladder complaining of dry mouth, gargle with Biotene, which is an over the counter mouth rinse. If that doesn’t help a medication that stimulates saliva production, called Salagen, may be prescribed.
Other steps you can take that may help improve saliva flow include:
Sucking on sugar-free candy or chewing sugar-free gum, drinking plenty of water to help keep your mouth moist, protecting your teeth by brushing with a fluoride toothpaste, using a fluoride rinse, and visiting your dentist regularly, and using a room vaporizer to add moisture to the bedroom air
Bottom Line: Dry mouth is a common problem and can lead to other problems if it is not treated. Simple lifestyle changes will often help. If these changes do not help and the over the counter medications are not effective, see your dentist if bad breadth persists.

Tips for choosing the right exercise equipment

February 4, 2012

Many of my patients and followers on my blog are interested in exercise and nutrition. This article copied from the Harvard Medical School Newsletter will provide you with suggestions for obtaining effective yet safe exercise equipment.

You can launch an effective exercise program using only what nature gave you: your body. But because regular activity remains an elusive goal for most people, a multibillion-dollar industry has blossomed around the promise of surefire success. Health club memberships and home exercise equipment are excellent exercise solutions for many people. Do keep these cautions in mind, though:
• Even the best equipment and most tricked-out gyms only produce results when used regularly.
• Learn to use equipment properly to avoid injuries that could sideline you temporarily or permanently.
• Exercise equipment comes in all sizes, shapes, and price ranges. It pays to check consumer ratings and follow our other tips for smart consumers before making your purchase.
Following are some basics you should know if you’re in the market.
Cardio equipment
If you stop by any gym, you’ll see rows of machines designed to simulate cycling, walking and running, kayaking, rowing, skiing, and stair climbing. Whether motorized or not, sized for heavy-duty gym use or in lighter home versions, these machines offer good cardio workouts that burn calories and fat. What’s more, your workout takes place indoors, away from fickle weather.
Price varies from a few hundred dollars to thousands, depending upon whether a machine is motorized or programmable, and whether it has add-ons, such as devices to measure heart rate, calories or METs burned, time elapsed, and so forth. While this information tends not to be entirely accurate, it could encourage you to step up your workouts or may be important if your doctor has advised you to limit activity. The following are some of the more popular types of aerobic exercise equipment.
Cross-country ski machine
This machine lets you exercise arms and legs simultaneously, as you would in cross-country skiing. The sliding motion is easy on the knees. On some machines, you have to move one ski forward to make the other move back. On others, the skis move independently. In addition, certain ski machines use ropes, while others have stationary handgrips. Check out all these types to see which one is most comfortable for you. Look for a wide foot bed for stability.
Elliptical trainers
These machines provide a circular up-and-down motion that’s a cross between a ski machine and a stair-stepper. They provide a nearly impact-free workout, which is easy on the joints. Resistance and grade can be adjusted automatically or manually on some models, and levers with handgrips to work the upper body may be available, too. It may take a little while to get used to the unusual motion. Look for comfortable handlebars and nonslip pedals with curved ridges. Try the machine out at varying speeds and grades to make sure it feels stable.
Rowing machines
Rowing machines work the back, arms, and legs simultaneously, offering as close to a total-body workout as available from a machine. Unless you’re used to rowing, the motion initially may feel unfamiliar, and some people find it hard on the back. When purchasing one, consider pulley models instead of piston models for a more realistic rowing experience.
Stair-steppers
These machines provide a low-impact workout that approximates climbing flights of stairs. Some modes have levers with handgrips to work arms, too. Beginners may find stepper machines strenuous, and the motion can be hard on the knees. Look for machines that provide independent foot action and are equipped with handrails and large stair platforms.
Stationary bicycle
An exercise bike takes no training and is easy to use, although it can be uncomfortable for long stints. While riding isn’t as effective in preventing osteoporosis as weight-bearing exercise, it does provide an excellent cardiovascular workout. Look for a model with a comfortable, adjustable seat and toe clips. If the seat is too hard, find out if you can replace the seat with a cushioned model bought separately.
Treadmill
This machine enables you to walk or run indoors. Some models offer a flexible, less joint-jarring surface. Opt for a motorized treadmill. When purchasing one, look for a strong motor (the machine will last longer), a belt that’s long and wide enough for your stride, a sturdy frame with front side rails for safety, and an emergency stop device. You should be able to adjust the speed and grade so you can walk at a comfortable pace.
Strength equipment
By harnessing gravity, body weight, external weight, or tension as a resistance force, these devices help you build strength. As with cardio equipment, styles and prices range widely, from expensive professional equipment most often found in gyms and health clubs to affordable, portable home models.
If you’re just starting out, you can save a fortune by selecting a few basics — comfortable walking shoes plus hand weights or resistance bands or tubing — instead of investing a considerable sum of money in weight lifting machines.
Ankle weights
These are optional for strength exercises like the side leg raise and hip extension. Look for comfortably padded ankle cuffs with pockets designed to hold half-pound or 1-pound weight bars to add as you progress. Ankle weight sets are usually 5 to 10 pounds. A single cuff may suffice, depending on the exercises you intend to do.
Exercise mat
Choose a nonslip, well-padded mat for floor exercises. A thick carpet or towels will do in a pinch.
Hand weights
Depending on your current strength, start with sets of weights as low as 2 pounds and 5 pounds, or 5 pounds and 8 pounds. Add heavier weights as needed. Dumbbells with padded center bars and D-shaped weights are easy to hold. Weighted bands that strap onto wrists and kits that let you screw weights onto a central bar are available, too. Weights are a good place to save cash by checking sports resale stores.
Resistance bands and tubing
Resistance bands or tubing can be used for a full-body strength workout. Attractive features include low cost, light weight, portability, and ease of storage. As with weights, you can measure how challenging the resistance is by how many repetitions of an exercise you can do: if less than eight, resistance is too high; if more than 12, it is too low. Positioning your hands or feet closer together or farther apart on the band or tube before starting an exercise helps vary resistance. Try different positions to learn which make repetitions easier or harder.
Bands. These look like big, wide rubber bands. They come in several levels of resistance from very light to very heavy, designated by color.
Tubing. Look for tubing with padded handles on each end. These also come in several levels of resistance from very light to very heavy, designated by color. Some brands come with a door attachment helpful for anchoring tubing in place when doing certain strength exercises.

From Harvard Medical School, 1-31-12